Top 10 lists are ridiculous, we all know that so there’s no reason to dwell on that fact. Some people take them more seriously than others, I personally find them equally fun and frustrating. There are some Top 10s, like Cahiers du Cinema, that serve as guides to must-see films that the common moviegoer obviously missed or would have never heard of otherwise (the aforementioned is admittedly a pretty oddball list; as my buddy Travis Crawford pointed out, it’s probably the only Top 10 list in the world that will include two Abel Ferrara films [Go Go Tales is a ton of fun by the way; Keep the Lights On is a struggle to get through]). There are other Top 10s, like Entertainment Weekly‘s dueling though rather similar lists, that seem to seek the approval and agreement of the general populace (Bernie? Seriously? And was Lincoln really that good?).
My point is that Top 10 lists say more about the author/publication’s opinions than anything else, as you likely already realize, though some lose sight of this fact when presented with a list from a so-called expert on the subject. Let’s take a look at a range of Top 10 lists from Cinedelphia.com contributors of various ages and
Here’s Central High School student Tom Molz’s Top 10 of 2012:
3. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Django Unchained6. Caesar Must Die
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
9. Les Miserables
10. The Avengers
Quite similar to the Entertainment Weekly lists, all mainstream and critically acclaimed (though Caesar Must Die did manage to sneak in there). Nothing wrong with that, Tom is around 15-years-old with a long cinematic education ahead of him. The thing that should be realized though is that this list matches those of at least 75% of the well-known critics in our country…there’s a statement about them in there somewhere.
Now we’ll move on to Temple U. undergraduate John Dorman’s Top 13 list (films in no particular order):
1. The Cabin in the Woods
3. Dark Shadows
6. Killer Joe
9. The Man with the Iron Fists
10. The Moth Diaries
11. Peace, Love & Misunderstanding
13. Take this Waltz
What’s noble about this list is that John doesn’t seem to care at all about the opinions of the general populace/critical agreement as evidenced by his inclusion of Savages, Dark Shadows, The Moth Diaries, and, most notably, The Man with the Iron Fists (!). This isn’t what you’d necessarily call a “well-rounded” list, but his generation of movie fans typically favor the modern horror/sci-fi/genre realms, and hell, I’d watch Iron Fists over Silver Linings any day. As far as my personal reaction to this list, I wouldn’t consider any of these films to be anywhere near the best of the year, aside from Cosmopolis and possibly Killer Joe, but hey, to each his own (and I still haven’t seen Detachment, I have to get to that soon).
Moving on to frequent contributor/late twenty-something Aaron Mannino’s Top 10:
1. Heaven’s Gate
2. Villain (Akunin)
3. The Central Park Five
5. After Lucia
6. I Am a Ghost
7. Petrel Hotel Blue
8. Anna Karenina
10. Beyond the Hills
So here we have an (over?)educated film/festival-goer who has included repertory/re-releases such as Zulawski’s brilliant Possession and Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, which is perfectly appropriate since there are no rules to these lists (though I personally feel that a Top 10 list should only include new films, the repertory stuff has already had its time [appreciated or not] in the spotlight). I’d call this a well-rounded list, suitable of a Film Comment-type publication.
I was reluctant to do a Top 10 of my own this year since there are so many films that I haven’t had a chance or the opportunity to see yet (Amour, Zero Dark Thirty, The Loneliest Planet, In Another Country, Berberian Sound Studio, Vanishing Waves, just to name a few), but here goes:
2. The Imposter
3. I Wish
4. Holy Motors
5. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
7. Crazy Horse
8. Scabbard Samurai
9. Photographic Memory
10. L.A. Connection (I’m including it despite what I said about re-releases above, I saw it on film twice this year and I loved it both times)
So what does this say about my film tastes? Well-rounded with a predilection towards documentaries and Japanese movies? Sounds about right.
My overall point is that Cinedelphia is a website that welcomes all tastes and opinions, regardless of how wrong they may be. Happy New Year!